Posted by Charles II on September 10, 2011
I refuse to participate in the remembrances of 9/11 that are going on. The only solace for the families of those who died on 9/11 is to trust in a just and loving God. It is something I would give them if I could, but it must arise from their own hearts.
I can do this one small thing. I can speak compassionate truth, not in anger or for personal gain, but because speaking truth with compassion is a living expression of my belief that somehow, beyond the horror toward which this civilization is directing itself is something so wonderful and beautiful that “every knee shall bow.”
Ten years ago, while the ashes of the World Trade Center and Pentagon and an airliner in the Pennsylvania countryside were cooling, I wrote two pieces (here and here) that I hoped would help my countrymen/women respond in a sensible manner. American Politics–may God bless them–published those pieces. It took fortitude to write those pieces and, I suspect, some courage to publish them. I could barely write through my shock and grief. Ten years on, though, they still hold up. I regret to say that very few seem to have heard anything that I said.
Here are a few excerpts (emphases added):
The greatest failures, however, have been in the pig-headed approach by US (and Israeli) foreign policy in addressing the very real problems that fester in the Muslim world. The Congress, under Republican control, steadfastly blocked US intervention in the Balkans and, after intervention, undermined US peacekeeping. A number of those nations have now been identified as havens for bin Laden’s terrorists. Republicans have committed evil deeds in preventing the resolution of the Palestinian crisis in Israel, perhaps the worst of which was George Bush advisor Richard Perle urging [the] Israeli delegation to walk out during the 2000 presidential election[...]. That act, so profoundly disloyal to the United States, was but one of many examples of collusion between the far right of this country and religiously intolerant, i.e., anti-Muslim elements in Israel. But the problem is far broader than the right-wing of this country. Both political parties have supported autocratic regimes, including Kuwait, rather than giving preference to nations willing to institute democratic reforms. If we are not a beacon of hope for the world, who will be?
There is a great push to have us surrender our freedoms as the price of stopping terrorism. We are told that we must become like the Taliban in order to defend ourselves from them. Not only is this view laughably false, but until we know for certain that this terrible deed was not planned from within those who govern this country, we should not even consider it.
Finally, there is the question of whether a “war” will defeat terrorism. Major General Julian Thompson notes the obvious difficulties of the terrain . Legal analyst Jonathan Turley says, rightly, that war is something that states engage in and that declaring war on bin Laden merely magnifies him . A declaration of war does not facilitate anything except the usurpation of Congressional powers by the president. This effort — to undo Constitutional protections and strip the American people of legal safeguards to their rights — is well underway. By so doing, they have poured the blood of sacrifice of American patriots from Nathan Hale to Martin Luther King, on the ground. It is a sorry truth that our elected officials would probably rather turn this nation into an armed camp than admit that they made mistakes.
The defeat that the terrorists cannot endure is a defeat in the court of Muslim public opinion. Terrorists should be treated as criminals, albeit criminals with massive firepower. If possible, they should be captured and tried for crimes against humanity. The United States should take steps to redress massive injustices in Muslim lands, including the slaughter in Indonesia, which we facilitated . To reprise Raymond Close’s penetrating words: “[T]he most effective defenses we will have against the terrorist threat [are] a commitment to the rule of law, dedication to fairness and evenhandedness in settling international disputes and a reputation as the most humanitarian nation in the world.
As for Bush’s speech, it was Trent Lott rather than the sycophants in the media, who made the remark that genuinely capsulated the moment. In a remark sure to chill the blood of those who remember the depredations of the one-party states of the last century, Lott announced after the Bush speech that “There is no opposition party”. … It is difficult to say which is more ghoulish: the looting in the mall beneath the World Trade Center  or the looting above-ground in the Capitol. A number of Democrats, saying that silencing dissent is for the good of the country, publicly renounced their right to criticize the Administration. Some Democrats even began labeling as enemies those who demurred on the wisdom of the policies being adopted. One would have thought they would have learned from having been at the receiving end of a half century-long campaign to designate Democrats as enemies of the state. Using the tactics of scapegoating merely legitimates them for use against oneself.
Some sources are beginning to catch on to the very bad company the United States has drifted into. William Saletan wrote: “According to the U.S. State Department’s latest Human Rights Report, [Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan] restrict freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. Jordan is a monarchy propped up by security forces that have committed ‘extrajudicial killings.’ The Saudi royal family ‘prohibits the establishment of political parties’ and enforces ‘a rigorously conservative form of Islam’ through ‘religious police.’ Egyptians ‘do not have a meaningful ability to change their Government.’ Egyptian security forces ‘arbitrarily arrest’ and ‘torture’ people in the name of ‘combating terrorism.’ 
There’s much more wisdom in those pieces, wisdom that it deeply pains me was never adopted or adopted too late by the left.
There are also some errors. One of the errors was the inclusion of Iraq on the list of suspects for 9/11 (along with “angry Okinawans,” which I privately thought were equally unlikely suspects). This was, interestingly, the result of disinformation spread by the network of anti-Muslim activists funded by Richard Mellon Scaife et al. Specifically, as I recall it, this meme traveled from Laurie Mylroie to a journalist of impeccable credentials who people of the left blogosphere know and like, with good reason. When I asked for input on my article, he urged the inclusion of Iraq as a suspect, something that he later regretted.
Amy Goodman did an excellent segment on “the other 9/11s”. The major one was the assassination of Salvador Allende by a US-sponsored coup in Chile. The similarities are striking. The main point is that the “war on terror” has failed to reduce terror because it it is not based on doing justice in the Muslim world. Ironically, the “war on terror” weakened the US enough to facilitate the Arab Spring and–perhaps, one day–an American Winter, when those who Tom Paine called the Winter Soldiers will finally prevail against all of the crassness and stupidity of the policies of this age.
I grieve–deeply so–over the fall of American power. I fear the successors to that power. I cannot, however, conceive of a more just outcome to the deeply unjust policies which have led to our nation’s decline. None of this had to happen. The nation has willed destruction on itself.
May the Spirit of Truth redeem us.
Added: There was someone else who was spot on in the aftermath of 9/11, namely Paul Krugman (crossposted from Eschaton).
Krugman was right then, as well as now. On September 14, 2001 he said:
“I didn’t want to mention this, but now is the time to draw the line. This tragedy will only be magnified if it is exploited for political gain. Politicians who wrap themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots, and history will not forgive them. ”
How few the voices of reason were back then.
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